Enthusiastic crowds, lots of children, green Hamas flags everywhere,and Hamas' bitter rivals from Fatah/PA deliver the speeches and provide
logistics. The festive May 2014 re-interment of the remains of the
human bomb who exploded inside the Sbarro pizzeria. The backstory is here.
In a sadly familiar instance of Palestinian Arab agitprop, the Ma'an News Agency, funded by European foreign aid and based in Bethlehem, recently ran a story entitled "Israel’s decades-long policy of holding Palestinian bodies" over the by-line of Emily Mulder.
The focus is on the customary Israel-on-Arab outrages, as promoted by an entity called "Palestinian National Committee for Retrieving Bodies of Martyrs". Lip-service is paid by the writer to the cause of death of "the majority" of the Palestinian Arabs whose bodies are said to be held by Israel: in her rather colorless words, they "had killed or injured Israeli military and civilians in attacks". No hint here that these "attacks" were invariably terrorism, with the targets in most cases being civilians, including women and children. No need for anyone to be troubled by this aspect, according to Ma'an, since
"the actual involvement of others in attacks at the time of their death has been disputed by the United Nations and Amnesty International."They presumably understand what they mean. To us, it sounds like more of what Ma'an is good at: liberal use of "alleged" when terrorism is being done to Israelis; the systematic casting of doubt on whether the attacks even happened, whether they were terrorism or "resistance", even whether the assailants had knives or whether the Israelis planted them next to the attackers' bodies. Not exactly a sophisticated approach. More a matter of heavy-handed agenda-based reporting.
On Twitter, we are now (today - but on reflection why publicize the links?) seeing conspiracy claims that hitch a ride on "news" reports like that from Ma'an. Why are the bodies not being handed over? The answer for the stupefyingly credulous: it's simple - because the Israelis are harvesting Arab organs. This approach works well in societies where the leadership has to maintain a constant state of belligerence and demonization of the enemy i.e. today's Palestinian Authority.
Sickening tale-spinning like that can work well in the right circumstances and with the right people. Without descending quite to those depths, the Ma'an piece invents realities that suffuse the narrative with emotional weight. They even manage to bring theology into it:
Salwa has watched dozens of Palestinian families over the years appeal to Israel’s high court in efforts to retrieve the remains of their relatives. She says that despite possible political motives for the policy, the only outcome she has seen is suffering families. “I met the father of Bayan al-Esseily, the 17-year-old girl from Hebron, before we got the body back. One week before, he was like a crazy man. He told us, ‘I want to see my daughter, I cannot sleep, I cannot eat.’ They made him suffer.” Salwa said that withholding bodies prevents a Muslim family from adhering to religious tradition regarding burial and prayer, forcing religious transgressions of mourning relatives. [Ma'an]Not much doubt who the victims are, even though the piece is dealing with murderers and the families they leave behind. Ma'an's approach works far better for them than actually facing up to the realities of what the Palestinian Arab regime under Mahmoud Abbas does when bodies of dead jihadists are handed back to them.
We described last year a festive commemoration that took place when the decomposed body of the human bomb who exploded inside the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem was given to the PA: see "5-May-14: The making of a martyr: it takes more than a village". It's what death cults do. And no, it's not at all surprising that despite the very visible presence of Hamas flags and supporters, there's the high-profile involvement of senior PA figures. Arch-rivals they may be, but in their world everyone wants and expects to get a piece of the adulation of a certified martyr.
Here's a selection of the Arab media coverage of the funeral of Izz Al-Din Al-Masri whose explosion caused a massacre in the center of Jerusalem on August 9, 2001: